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The world's first two Panama Jack Resorts are currently open in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This new casual resort company was started from scratch by Playa Hotels & Resorts in partnership with Panama Jack, the lifestyle brand known for sunscreen, eyewear, clothing and home furnishings.
TravelPulse just returned from a stay at the all-inclusive Panama Jack Cancun, which formerly was known as the Gran Caribe Real. Playa began a major renovation last year that refurbished all 458 guest rooms and suites, as well as several public areas, said Matias Klein, the property's general manager.
On Dec. 15, the resort transitioned to the Panama Jack name; grand opening festivities will take place later this year.
The theme of the Panama Jack Cancun is "casual, vintage and carefree," Klein said. "Enjoy your vacation without strict rules." Playful features include pop-up entertainment such as a mime in the lobby or staffers breaking out in dance to "Surfin' USA" on the pool deck.
The renovation painted the building's exterior, upgraded the spa and lobby, and installed a new coffee shop. A bar was added outdoors near the main pool, while the Deck 74 buffet restaurant was renovated as well.
The Ventanas restaurant is undergoing renovation now, while Viaggio, the Italian restaurant, and Casa de Rosa, the Mexican eatery, will be redone this year, Klein said.
The children's and teen's areas also are being renovated this year.
Panama Jack Cancun has its own Catholic chapel, with glass walls overlooking at the Caribbean Sea. The property, which has six wedding coordinators, hosts more than 200 weddings per year. The Our Lady of Guadeloupe chapel is used for Catholic ceremonies, and other wedding venues include a gazebo and terrace. When not in use for weddings or vow-renewal ceremonies, the gazebo is used for outdoor massages or tequila tastings.
Klein said the resort welcomes travelers of all ages, so there are plenty of families as well as couples, all in search of casual fun. "At some hotels, you need to wear a tie to dinner," he said. "Here we don't."
Theresa Norton, editor in chief of AGENTatHOME Magazine, covers the cruise industry for TravelPulse.com.
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